I Still Have My Favorite Children’s Books

Originally published April 2014

Are you the kind of person that sneaks peeks in medicine cabinets when you are in someone else’s house?

I’ve got a better place to creep. Try the bookshelf.

You can learn a lot about a person by the books (or lack thereof) on display.

Overdue library books? Either they’re lazy, a thief or unable to estimate how much free time they’ll have available for reading.

The classics? Showoffs.

“How To” books? Clearly in need of specific direction.

Very old copies of children’s books? Hoarders.

That’s me. I’m a book hoarder. I cherish the few I still have from my childhood—my Little House and Nancy Drew collections—and grieve the mountains of paperbacks that have been discarded along the way.


I can’t explain the obsession any more than I could explain why I would cry over losing my original copy of “Free to Be You and Me” in a house fire.

Husband: “Get out of the house! Run!”

Me: “Not without Marlo!”

Books aren’t just entertainment for me, and they are more than just a refuge. Whereas some people use music as a personal Wayback Machine, children’s books remain my trigger. Hold FTBYAM, and it’s as if I can reach out and touch my younger brother’s hand and hear the music from the album coming off the turntable. And knowing it really is OK to cry. Looking at my Nancy Drews and Little House books on my daughter’s bookshelf, and it’s like I’m back in my own bedroom, praying Laura and Mary don’t die from the ague. (I think I had the modern-day version of the ague this winter. You do want to die.)


I still love my copy of the Preppy Handbook and desperately wish I still had my old wooden-handled Bermuda bag to go with it. The book is stained, misshapen and still makes me laugh. And confirms that Sperry’s have always been en vogue. Flip through its pages and I’m transported back to middle school, where I left said Bermuda bag, my original Top Siders and at least one pair of Tretorns (Sniff!) …

In the course of three kids, we’ve amassed quite the collection of books, and yes, I have saved a bunch of them. Maybe not the Captain Underpants, but all of the Dr. Seuss. I want them to have the same opportunity to relive their childhood moments with their kids, with the exact.same.book.

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